How often has a friend tweeted you from a restaurant? Weren’t you curious to know where exactly it was? Since late 2009, Twitter users have been able to add details of their location to a tweet. Bing Twitter Maps, a new Twitter-based app developed by Microsoft researchers, merges these geotagged public tweets with the rich geographical information available via Bing Maps.
In other words, Bing Twitter Maps can show you who is tweeting from which part of the world, right down to street level in any given city. If someone tweets about the noodles in a Soho restaurant, others will be able to see not only where the restaurant is but also view a street-level photograph of it.
“Bing Twitter Maps demonstrates the power of linking what people are saying with where people are saying it and when people are saying it,” explains Ralf Herbrich, director of Microsoft’s Future Social Experiences (FUSE) Labs UK in Cambridge. You do this by calling up a Bing map and clicking on the location of each tweet listed on the map. Alternatively, the search function can look for the location of tweets concerning specific topics or people.
Tweets made in this way acquire a new dimension – physical location. “Bing Twitter Maps combines the real-time power of Twitter with the richness of online maps,” Herbrich says. The application creates the ability to ‘listen into’ the public conversations that are going on at any place in the world. “With Bing Twitter Maps you can see what people are saying at any of the 22 different football stadiums during Saturday afternoon matches, or at a concert in Hyde Park – all in real time.”
Bing Twitter Maps is still at the experimental stage. FUSE Labs has ambitions to incorporate live pictures and video. But since anyone can view public tweets and now also the location they were sent from, it will be even more important to tweet with care.
This article was originally published in the Futures Magazine.